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Melissa Harnden

Cultural Anthropology
Assignment: Homework
Due: May 2nd

1. How does Anthropology differ from other fields of study


you’ve encountered?
Anthropology is an all encompassing field of study which takes
into account many other fields in order to gain an understanding of
humans and how we work together in our own cultures and with other
cultures which we may not normally be exposed to. Anthroplogy takes
into account many fields such as biological, sociological, economical,
historical, geological, and genetic (to name a few) to understand
humans and how it affects our evolution as a whole as well as
individually and socially. Other fields that I have studied, such as
biology, anatomy, physiology, microbiology, psychology, and sociology
seem to be more focused on their specific window of study and more
like sub-fields of this bigger picture which we call anthropology.

2. What do you think about the suggestion that anthropology


is the fundamental discipline concerned with humans?
As defined by Answers.com, Anthropology is ‘The scientific study
of the origin, the behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural
development of humans.’ Other disciplines primarily focus on a
particular aspect of humans, for example; anatomy studies the
physical design on the human body, physiology studies the way the
inside of the body works and maintains itself, psychology studies
human behavior and thought, sociology focuses on how society
behaves as a whole and the way in which individuals behave as a part
of society, and so forth. To fully understand how each of these aspects
contribute to human development and behavior, a holistic view of
humans is needed to see the bigger picture, this is where anthropology
originates and focuses, which I believe supports the suggestion that it
is the fundamental discipline concerned with humans.

3. What is the difference between tacit and explicit culture?


How can anthropologists discover these two kinds of culture?
Tacit culture is the behaviors that each culture has that do not
needs explanation because they are observed and learned among
groups of people. For example, a certain amount of personal space is
something that people have come to respect and subconsciously give
each other when they are around others. How close or far that amount
of appropriate space is varies among cultures and relationship of the
people we encounter, but typically is not anything verbalized unless we
become uncomfortable. Explicit differs in that it is verbalized or written
communication which provides direction of how to behave. An example
of this would be when we go to a new country that we are unfamiliar
with and we need explanation of how people in this area behave so we
know how to fit in and respect their culture. Anthropologist spent a
great deal of time observing people around the word to obtain an
understanding of tacit and explicit behaviors among different cultures.
4. Would it be adaptive for a society to have everyone adhere
to the cultural norms?
I’m not totally clear on what is meant by adaptive here. I don’t
think that it would be realistic to have everyone adhere to cultural
norms because of such diversity of character. There will always be
those who go against the norm because it’s their way of remaining
individual or because their style or behavior suits their beliefs, so to try
to normalize and conform society would take away from its uniqueness
and intrigue. I suppose a culture which believed the same and behaved
the same could adapt to changes better because there is strength in
numbers so if everyone was all for one instead of one for all, so to
speak, then as times changed and we evolved perhaps we could
progress together more easily than if there is the diversity among
people that we have today. Some norms, such as laws, must be
adhered to in order for there to be less chaos and a sort of order which
keeps cultures safe or we may be our own undoing I suppose.

5. Why does culture change more rapidly in some societies


than in others?
The first answer that comes to mind can be summed up in two
words, technology and resources. In an area that has the resources to
build, interact, and access more readily the essential things one needs
to live, a culture has an ability to progress and move faster because
there is less time spent developing these things. I am thinking of our
fast paced way of living in the US and other large countries that have
similar resources and technology. We do not have to spend as much
time plowing fields, planting crops, searching for drinking water,
hunting for food, and such unless we choose to because it is available
to us which allows us to spend more time doing other things such as
working, entertainment, leisure time, and such. This has shaped our
culture in ways that are different than other cultures because we don’t
have to give as much time to these things that other cultures may still
have to in order to survive. This is only one example of why some
cultures change more rapidly.
Values are also another reason I believe which may contribute to
changes among societies. Some societies place more value on the
slower pace and stronger resistence to change that they have become
accustom to. Other societies believe that the slower we progress the
more ‘behind the times’ we may be. Religion, health access,
environment, and age are just a few other factors which can contribute
to more radidly changing cultures.
6. Does a theoretical orientation enhance one’s way of looking
at the